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Calls for bishop to intervene

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 21/04/2015

The peaceful rural setting of the venerable Knocknamuckley Parish Church near Portadown belies the turmoil within.

It's the first time in its 150-year history that most people outside the Co Armagh congregation will have heard of the parish.

However, it soon becomes apparent, within minutes of taking to parishioners, that the congregation of St Matthias is deeply split over the direction their modern pastor is taking them.

While none of the parishioners willing to speak wanted to be identified, it was clear churchgoers were divided into two broad camps, for and against, while others just wanted the problem resolved through dialogue.

One member of the congregation said the church hierarchy needed to step in.

The man said: "This needs to be sorted out by the bishop.

"It's not the man, but his style and beliefs. This used to be a unified church."

Another churchgoer was backing the minister. He said: "I love my church and I support the minister as I have supported all of Knocknamuckley's ministers, no matter what faults he may have."

Another member was more reflective and confirmed the minister's approach had led to conflict.

She said: "There is definitely a problem at Knocknamuckley. Half of my family support the minister and the other half don't. They have turned against him."

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